Sunday, May 5, 2013

Wisconsin Marathon Race Review

First things first- I loved the Wisconsin marathon. It was a great race and I had a ton of fun. I achieved my goal of finishing in under 5 hours and I guess have a new marathon PR by about 43 minutes.....even though this one is seven years after my first marathon. Most importantly there never came a time when I was running the marathon where I regretted my decision to run one. Miles toward the end got tough and uncomfortable but as one lady I ran with exclaimed "hey we are running a marathon today! This is awesome!" It was awesome and I am super excited for my next attempt at 26.2 miles.

To the details!
Packet Pick-up: packet pick-up was low key at the Best Western in Kenosha the day before the race. In and out in about five minutes with number, t-shirt, cheese samples and a bag full of flyers for other races. This race has two other packet pick-ups on different days near Chicago and one near Milwaukee. They make it easy to get your number.

I love the design of the race shirt and the numbers looked different depending on if you were running the half or full. There seemed to be about 10 half marathoners for every full marathon runner. It was very noticeable how small the marathon field was when the half marathons pulled off the course to the finish. 


Race Day: Though there were varying reports of weather- everything from impending doom (rain and wind) to just cloudy. Surprisingly it turned out to be a great day for running. Cooler at the start, warming up gradually but never getting uncomfortably warm. The sun even came out. Can't beat that.
 I woke up around 4a.m. to eat a protein pancake and drink some water and get ready. D and I left the house around 5:45 and due to no traffic found a parking space right away about a half a mile from the start. Parking is mostly surface lots and street parking near the start and finish line. We sat in the car for awhile to stay warm and then headed to the start. I hit the porto lines for the last minute nervous pee and then it was go time.
Two thumbs up for marathons
 I had a serious week long debate with myself about whether or not I should wear my hydration backpack. On the one had I thought it might become the single focus of my irritation during the later miles. On the other hand I needed a place to put all my Gu and stash my cellphone. I am glad I wore it. It was nice to not have to carry anything and even though I only put a little water in the bag it was convenient to have so I could take a Gu whenever I wanted. If you are on the hunt for a long distance hydration backpack I would recommend this one.

 The start was pretty crowded and the race stayed crowded pretty much for the entire first half. Once the half marathoners were out of the picture there was tons of space.
Crowded start

 The Course: Overall I really liked the course. It was two loops- a loop to the north and then a loop to the south pretty much all along the lakefront, very scenic. You went through the cute downtown part of Kenosha, ran along some of the lakefront beaches and through some of the nice waterfront neighborhoods in Pleasant Prairie. My only complaint would be the terrain was a bit rough. The streets are not in the best shape and so there were lots of pot holes and cracks. The marathon ran through some gravel sections. Though the website describes them as packed gravel I would describe the dirt roads as more ankle twisting boulders of death. The gravel did not seem packed at all and the bottom of my feet and ankles still feel a bit tender. This could just be me- I am not the most graceful and light-footed of creatures so others probably had less difficulty.

The Volunteers: If I could go back and hug every volunteer out there I would. The race volunteers had tuxedo t-shirts on which really classed this whole race up. Kidding but it did put a smile on my face. Every volunteer was friendly and cheering and happy to help and told me that I looked strong and good, etc. when I am sure I really looked like death. Thank you volunteers for lying to me and for being awesome!

The Crowds: There was lots of cheering crowds for the first half. Less so for the second 13.1. For the first half lots of families and friends with signs. My personal favorite was the lady with the sign that read "Oh you are running a marathon. Honey Badger doesn't give a shit". I busted up laughing both times I saw her. I saw D cheering me on around mile 5 which really gave me a boost. After the half marathoners split off it got pretty quiet though there were small groups of family and friends and of course the great volunteers including the police officers along the course who were cheering. Some people in the neighborhood we ran through put up tables with cups or bottled water for the runners which I thought was very sweet.

Wow a running picture where I actually look like I am running
 The Performance: Let's go to the numbers shall we.

1 9:42 (wow this race seems super crowded)
2 9:30 (no weaving- don't waste any energy)
3 9:25 (oh this is easy I am gonna finish this thing in like 4 hours)
4 9:23 (I am totally awesome)
5 9:25 (Still awesome)
6 9:55 (Ugh was that a tiny hill)
7 9:41 (running is fun)
8 9:54 (mmmm gatorade)
9 9:47 (wow what if I could totally run all 26 miles in the 9's)
10 9:55 (I am totally killing this)
11 10:13 (I am beginning to regret my earlier speedy smugness)
12 10:07 (nah it is fine I got this)
13 10:43 (maybe I can keep all miles in the 10's- that would also be cool)
14 10:24 (second wind-weeeee)
15 10:53 (Huh this suddenly got very hard)
16 11:52 (Oh my god I hate gravel)
17 11:15 (maybe between 11 and 12 min- I feel the bar is lowering)
18 12:22 (Walk breaks are awesome)
19 11:36 (this seems like an awfully long way)
20 13:16 (Walk breaks are really awesome and kind of getting away from me)
21 11:59 (bam- in the 11's- nailed it)
22 13:14 (More walking less running, ugh running is hard)
23 12:51 (only like a 5k to go- oh my god a whole 5k)
24 12:36 (And I am still running)
25 12:44 (so close yet so far)
26 13:21 (I can almost taste the victory beer)
27 9:14 (random burst of awesome at the end- hey at least finish strong)


Medal obtained!
 Official finish time: 4:50:20 bam take that five hours- I kicked your butt. It might have been a tiny ten minute butt whooping but I still whooped it.

What I did right: Fueling: I never felt out of energy from lack of fuel. I had a plan to have a Gu every five miles and that seemed to work well for me. And help break the marathon up into manageable five miles sections, they began to seem less manageable towards the end.  Towards the end my stomach was kind of not having it but I fed it Gu anyway and it just dealt with it. Mental game: I did get tired and it did get uncomfortable but I kept going and pushing through and never doubted my ability to finish strong.
I am the master of fueling. Like you ever doubted it.
 Room for improvement: Hey Bean, when will you ever learn to pace yourself? I could have had a more conservative start and that probably would have helped me the second half. I would rather have all miles in the 10's and 11's then feel like I am flying the first half and dying the second. But for some reason I just can not seem to get it together in that department. I even mentioned for D that I thought I might go out too fast and that would kill me in the second half. HELLO. Listen to myself and avoid the disaster. The other thing I didn't do well was my shoe choice for the race. I ran in my Brooks Adrenalin which I love for shorter distances but want something more cushy for this many miles and something that makes my Achilles tendons feel less hateful. I feel fine today except for my Achilles. I felt fine everywhere but my Achilles (and bruised gravel abused feet) during the race. Once the pain set in around mile 8 it did not go away.  I also missed the blogger meet-up because I didn't get there early enough and then had to stand in the porto line for forever and a day. I am a bad blogger, more so than bad spelling and grammar. Hope you all had an amazing race!

The greatest thing about this race was it gave me this golden photo opportunity

Final thoughts: I loved this race. I loved training for this race and running this race. Did I love it every step of the way. No- I think anyone who has ever run a marathon or even a half marathon, or even just have taken up running have a few moments when they are like "you know I could just be drinking wine in my backyard with a good book, or napping, or doing anything else but this relentless movement forward". But there is nothing like crossing the finish line and the feeling of accomplishment. Plus I love me some medals. Especially cheese themed medals
Blues cheese was the theme and the back of the race shirt says Say Cheese!
More importantly than breaking five hours I wanted to enjoy myself and want to do it again. And in the later half of the marathon I started planning for my next one, a sure sign I was either dehydrated and getting delirious or really have embraced this distance as the new challenge in my running life. Thank you Wisconsin marathon for the great experience and I can't wait to give 26.2 miles a go again! On a related note I am also excited to be able to walk up the stairs in a less awkward manner again. Stairs are hard.

25 comments:

  1. you are invited to follow my blog

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  2. Congrats! It looks like the marathoners got slightly different tshirts from the half marathoners, too.

    I thought the volunteers' tshirts were just to be silly, but I figured out the link between "bleu cheese" and "tuxedos" when I saw the Blues Brothers cover band playing on the course. Mid-race, I was like, "Ohhhhhhhh!!"

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    1. Oh my gosh- you are genius. I got the bleu- blues cheese part but totally missed the purpose of the tuxedo shirts. I just thought they were fun. Hope you had a great race!

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  3. Awesome recap and HUGE CONGRATULATIONS on your AMAZING new marathon PR. You KILLED it out there today!!! And even more importantly, it sounds like you enjoyed yourself pretty much the whole time! It's a huge, HUGE win to run the entire 26.2 miles without ever regretting your decision. (I have regretted almost every race I've ever run at some point or other during those hard miles.) =)

    I agree with you that the race is absolutely fantastic but that those rough patches of road were terrible - I had to run looking down to make sure I didn't trip and fall and break my skull. It did seem that the marathon field was very small compared to the half marathoners. I was out there with some friends watching the marathoners finish around the 4:15 time mark and everyone was very spaced out. That would have scared me because it would have made me worry that I would finish last, LOL.

    In any event - CONGRATULATIONS again!!! Now time for you to get some rest and relax! =)

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    1. Thanks so much. I was a little concerned about the finish last part too when I saw how few marathoners there were but hey a finish is a finish!:)

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  4. I've been checking your blog all day waiting to hear how it went. I knew you'd crush it. You're amazing. I'm so happy for you and definitely feel inspired to tackle the training for my first full marathon!! I love all the smiles on your face and the random thoughts with your miles!! Awesome!!! Congratulations!!!!!!

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    1. Thanks so much! I really enjoyed training for the marathon but I think tackling one week at a time- don't freak yourself out oh my god 26 miles helps too. Can't wait to hear how your training goes!

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  5. Yay, congratulations. SO excited for you. You did so well, and best of all, you look so happy in all the photos.

    Okay, book those flights. My spare bed awaits!!!

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    1. Once you get back from all your awesome vacationing I am going to be emailing to run some travel plans by you! So excited!

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  6. Awesome job completing and the new PR!!! You put a lot of time into the race and this post and it shows! Congrats and enjoy your relaxing time now!

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    1. Thank you! I am super excited to run Chicago and to try the Hanson method this time around.

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  7. Congratulations!!! That is an amazing PR and I'm so glad you enjoyed the race :) Loved the mile by mile recap of what you were thinking lol!

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    1. I think I might have omitted some curse words that may have crossed my mind in the later miles:)! Not sure about the half in Sept. but whether I run or not I am always happy to contribute to carb loading or post race celebrating!

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  8. Congratulations! I loved reading this and seeing how much you enjoyed a marathon. I thought that they had to be miserable and horrible, but you make it seem fun and doable. Such an amazing accomplishment and way to crush your goal! You rock!

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    1. Thanks! I think marathons could be miserable and horrible if you don't stop yourself from freaking out at times but embracing the 'let's see what happens' attitude makes it easier and more fun. Plus marathoners are so crazy fun to chat with. Especially the ones who run them all the time.

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  9. so glad you not only hit your goal time, but also that you enjoyed yourself while doing it. As I told you once before, I ran this half 2 years ago to cross WI off my list... it is one of the VERY FEW races where I told myself I would most likely come back to when everything is said and done as there is so much about this race that I love.

    Now its time to kick back a little bit for recovery, revel in the AWESOME bling you earned, and let that PR carry you as long as you allow it!!

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    1. I think I would come back and run the half for sure. It is a nice and well organized race. Just realized my bling is also a bottle opener= winning!

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  10. Congrats on your PR!!!! Looks like a fun race.

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  11. You did it!!! I'm so happy for you! And I want to make that sign and hold it up at every race from now on. That's hilarious. And I'm totally with you on the pacing at the beginning of a race. I have not one time had a negative marathon split, and I'm pretty sure I never will. I just get way too optimistic at the start. Every single time. And gravel in the middle of a road marathon is just wrong. That is not what you signed up for!:)

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    1. I know I had to watch the honey badger video later that day. So funny. I am excited to try this distance again- I am all I can pace myself better, I can do this differently- now I see how it can be addicting:)

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  12. Fun recap and so exciting to get a PR for a marathon! Sounds like a great race too! Congrats!

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    1. Thanks! PRs are always exciting- even when marathons are seven years apart ;).

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  13. a 43 minute PR is impressive! Just goes to show you have loads of room for improvement if you choose to chase the 26.2 more :) The course sounded nice, minus the rough patches- that would get mentally tiring to be constantly watching your step. Congrats on a nice race!

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  14. Howdy, just found your blog...

    Congrats on the PR! Yes, you have it right: pacing is key.

    You really have to force yourself to go CRAZY slow the first half. Hard to do but once you experience enjoying the last 6 miles a lot more that helps for next time 8)

    You could have probably done a 4:30 that day and felt no worse or even better at the end.

    But hey, it's all good!

    Do you know about the half fanatics and or the marathon maniacs?

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